November 2011 E-News Brief

JAN HOCHSTIM, 1931-2011

Jan Hochstim, a longtime professor at the University of Miami’s School of Architecture, historian of the modern movement, and Docomomo US board member, passed away on November 5. He was 80.

UM released this statement which pays homage to Hochstim's illustrious career. In addition his work as a professor, Jan was also author of Florida Modern: Residential Architecture 1945 - 1970 and Paintings & Sketches of Louis I. Kahn.

A gathering to celebrate Hochstim’s life will be held at the School of Architecture's Jorge M. Perez Architecture Center, Stanley and Jewell Glasgow Lecture Hall, on Friday, December 2 at 4 p.m. A reception will follow. To RSVP visit http://arc.miami.edu/rsvp.

In lieu of flowers, donations can be made in Hochstim’s memory to: University of Miami School of Architecture, Materials Lab, P.O. Box 249178, Coral Gables, FL 33124-5010.

  

TOUR DAY 2011: RECAP

The Docomomo US Tour Day was an unprecedented success! During the weekend of October 8-10, over 2000 modern architecture enthusiasts across the country came out for tours and events. Along with Docomomo US regional chapters, we were thrilled to partner with a dozen new organizations including a2Modern, Salt Lake Modern, Palm Springs Modernism Week, the Historic Albany Foundation, the Architectural Heritage Center: Portland, the Society of Architectural Historians and Archtober.

Here are some highlights from Tour Day 2011.

Docomomo US/Florida organized two very successful tours in Jacksonville. A morning lecture at Robert Broward's 1965 Unitarian Universalist Church was standing room only, and concluded in a self-guided tour of 1950s and 1960s homes in the area. One of the sites visited was a pristine example of a Cemesto, redwood, and glass structure still occupied by its original owner.  A second waterfront residence by William N. Morgan was visited which had been saved from certain demolition. In the afternoon a second tour offered visitors a chance to visit the former Ford Motor Company assembly plant designed by Albert Kahn.  

To celebrate Docomomo’s national Tour Day, Palm Springs Modernism Week offered its most popular event, the Modernism Double Decker Architecture Bus

The famed Richard Neutra-designed Kaufmann House is among one of the many iconic buildings seen on the Palm Springs Modernism Week Double Decker Tour. Photo credit: Lydia Kremer

Tour, a fun 3-hour, open-air, double-decker bus tour of Palm Springs’ notable midcentury modern architecture. With more than 300 guests, the tour group visited some of Palm Springs’ notable residential and commercial buildings throughout the City, including the famed Kaufmann House. Also in California, the Los Angeles Conservancy offered their Modern Skyline tour and nearly quintupled their attendance. More than sixty people enjoyed a delightful afternoon amongst Los Angeles’ tallest.

Modern Phoenix didn't tour just one day, but three weekend days over the course of two weekends. Modern Phoenix welcomed one hundred people into modern homes and civic buildings alike, a tremendous turnout. The tours also included living architects and remodeling architects as well as current homeowners.

The Architectural Heritage Center: Portland welcomed a few dozen people for their Reedwood Neighborhood Tour.  Led by Gabe Headrick and Leland Hanson, the tour included a brief history of the neighborhood and the opportunity to see inside one of the landmark homes as well as some fantastic mid-century landscaping.

A view of the reading room with architectural drawings and Island Park rendering from the Robert C. Metcalf collection

In Ann Arbor, Michigan, a2modern partnered for Tour Day 2011 with the program "Growing Up Modern:  Experiencing, Remembering, and Researching Architectural Modernism at the Bentley Library.” Along with speakers Nancy Bartlett and Nancy Deromedi, Peter Osler, Director, Program of Landscape Architecture at the Illinois Institute of Technology was the main speaker for the afternoon event.  Peter is the son of David C. Osler, architect and grandson of Emil Lorch, former dean of the College of Architecture at the University of Michigan.  Peter gave a delightful presentation reflecting on how he felt growing up modern and how he has looked back at the experience.  Following the talk, there was a short panel discussion and a viewing of original drawings from the collections of David C. Osler, Gunnar Birkerts, Albert Kahn, William Muschenheim, Robert C. Metcalf, George B. Brigham, Bill Scott and Tivadar Balogh. a2modern would like to thank the Bentley Historical Library in particular Francis Blouin and Nancy Bartlett, Peter Osler and Claire Zimmerman, Ted Ligibel and Martin Schwartz.  

In upstate New York, the Historic Albany Foundation hosted a tour of Edward Durell Stone’s State University at Albany campus.

SUNY Albany Theater Interior. Photo: Liz Waytkus

With more than fifty people in attendance, the group viewed exterior and interior settings including the Main Theatre on campus with detailing reminiscent of Stone’s work at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. At the conclusion of the tour, Hicks Stone, Edward Durell Stone’s youngest son, gave a short slide show lecture about his famous father and his legacy.

Back in September, twelve Docomomo US/New England members visited three modern buildings in Maine: Edward L. BarnesHaystack School of Arts and Crafts on Deer Isle; a private residence by Nat Saltonstall in Camden; and a private residence by Serge Chermayeff in Falmouth. The tour was arranged by NE President David N. Fixler, FAIA, and NE Content Coordinator Marie S. Sorensen, Associate AIA. Docomomo US/New England would like to thank Stuart Kestenbaum, Director of Haystack; Georgiana McCabe, owner of the Saltonstall house; and Barbara and Michael Payson, owners of the Chermayeff house, for sharing these resources with our members. We would additionally like to thank NE members David Eisen, AIA and Kim Markert, AIA; John Schulz, AIA; and the Maine Historic Commission for making introductions that facilitated the event.

Ira Rakatansky

On Sunday October 9, Docomomo US/New England and partner organization, the Society of Architectural Historians, toured a half-dozen works by Providence, RI based architect Ira Rakatansky. RISD professor Lynette Widder, author of the book Ira Rakatansky: As Modern as Tomorrow, organized the tour, which was led by Ira Rakatansky himself. The event included several notable interiors and all were appreciative of the generosity of the homeowners for making the visits possible. Additional information about Ira Rakatansky can be found at http://thedesignoffice.org/ira/

The Docomomo US/Minnesota tour featured Modern homes around the Twin Cities area. The tour welcomed more than 200 attendees and included a variety of Modern houses from local and nationally-recognized architects. The tour day was highlighted by a party at Sankaku, designed by John Howe, Frank Lloyd Wright’s chief draftsman. The Minnesota chapter thanks Kim Palmer at the Star Tribune and homeowners Sue and Patty Amidon at Sankaku, Martha Raup at the Close home in University Grove, Tony Branfort at the Graffunder home, Stephen Bubal at the Stageberg home, Dobson & Jane West at the Dalyrumple House, and Jim & Sharon Rupp at the Lloyd Wright House.

Photo: Kirk Huffaker

Tour Day in Salt Lake City was a crisp fall day where seventy-five people gathered at one of the most renowned homes designed by architect Taylor Woolley. Representative of Woolley's strict Prairie style work he did on his own, as a partner in firms, and for Frank Lloyd Wright, the W.W. Ray House is one of the first homes in the city to be built in a new, modern style. Highlights of the Salt Lake Modern event included architectural historian and photographer Peter Goss providing a vivid description of Woolley's career, and a display of several plates of Wright's Wasmuth Portfolio that Taylor Woolley created.  Several members of the Woolley family also took the occasion to attend and meet guests. Salt Lake Modern thanks event sponsors:  Evergreene Construction, Lloyd Architects, Mony Ty-Mid Century Modern Realty Specialist, The Green Ant, and Whole Foods Sugar House; and to the homeowners for allowing guests into their homes.

The North Texas Chapter of Docomomo US organized a walking tour of the Green Meadows neighborhood, entitled The Road to Texas Modernism. During the tour guests viewed several homes by noted Texas architects, including David Williams, O'Neil Ford, and Howard Meyer. The first house was a two-story home completed in 1932 and unofficially attributed to O'Neil Ford, which features copper light fixtures and handsome woodwork by Ford's brother, Lynn. The second home, completed in 1931, was originally designed by David Williams and O'Neil Ford with more recent, sensitive renovations and additions by Frank Welch and Bentley Tibbs, successively. The gracefully sited, unassuming home, addresses its expansive back yard with a double-height gallery, reminiscent of other Williams/Ford homes. The final stop was at a 1937 design by Howard Meyer, said to be his first modern house. Nicely restored and maintained by its current owner, the house features numerous signature elements of the International Style, including glass block, industrial sash, and an open, flowing plan. In spite of the continuing rain, the afternoon ended with a North Texas tradition - a cookout accompanied by good conversation.

In Connecticut, the New Haven Preservation Trust toured an often neglected yet architecturally robust Yale Medical section of the city. Stops on the tour included the Yale Psychiatric Institute building designed in 1989 by Frank Gehry and the Egyptian-inspired post-modern BCMM building designed by New Haven’s own Cesar Pelli.

Foothill College. Photo: Gretchen Hilyard

Back in California, Docomomo US/NOCA Board member Chandler McCoy and Peter Montgomery led a tour of Foothill Community College. Attendees included interested visitors from as far away as New Zealand. One of several “junior colleges,” designed in the early 1960s by the architecture firm lead by Ernest Kump with landscape design by Sasaki Walker Associates, Foothill College, in Los Altos, 30 minutes south of San Francisco, benefited from California’s then-flush public coffers and the State’s mission to deliver first rate educational services to its growing population. The results are a characteristically Californian campus: grass-covered landscapes shaded with native evergreen trees that flow between pavilions of poured-in-place concrete and redwood cladding. The buildings are grouped in clusters with deeply overhanging roofs that shelter intimate courtyards from the sun, and in winter shed rainwater into pools and lushly planted areas carved from the exterior paving.

Confluence Theater, part of the U.S. Pavilion at HemisFair '68. Photo: Marlene Richardson

Mid Tex Mod, the Central Texas chapter of Docomomo US, organized an extensive walking tour of the modern art and architecture at the former site of HemisFair ’68 in San Antonio. HemisFair '68 was the first official international exposition in the Southwest US. Highlights of the tour included the artwork of Juan O’Gorman of Mexico, Carlos Mérida of Guatemala, and Fred Samuelson, an American based in San Miguel de Allende. Their artwork reflected the theme of the Fair, the Confluence of the Civilizations in the Americas. The tour highlighted buildings presently threatened with potential demolition as the City of San Antonio moves forward with the most recent redevelopment plan for the area. These buildings included the new formalist Confluence Theater (designed by Marmon and Mok Associates and Donald Desky Associates; presently the John H. Wood Federal Courthouse), the Women’s Pavilion (designed by Cyrus Wagner), and the Institute of Texan Cultures (designed by Caudill Rowlett Scott). The tour concluded 622 feet above the ground on the observation deck of the Tower of the Americas (designed by O’Neil Ford and Associates). The Tower was recently honored by the San Antonio chapter of the American Institution of Architects for its lasting architectural importance.

The Louisiana chapter of Docomomo US and AIA New Orleans sponsored a bicycle tour of Modernism Along and Around St. Charles Avenue led by Tulane School of Architecture professor John Klingman. The tour began at the AIA Center for Design on Lee Circle and culminated with a reception uptown at the home of architect Marcel Wisznia, a 1936 “House for Tomorrow” designed by Nathaniel Cortlandt Curtis Sr., for Moise Goldstein, architects. Other highlights included stops at the Steinberg House (Curtis and Davis, 1958) and an interior tour of Unity Temple (Leonard Spangenberg Jr., 1960).

SOM, John Hancock. Photo: Francine Stock

Docomomo US New York/Tri-State held a tour of Roosevelt Island in New York's East River, site of an ambitious "new town in town" developed in the 1970s. The event focused on the exemplary Modern work of that period, based on an urban plan by Philip Johnson and John Burgee and including: residential complexes for a total of about 5,000 people designed by Johansen & Bhavnani and Sert Jackson & Associates; a centralized parking garage by Kallmann & McKinnell; a sports complex and a station for the island's unique aerial tram by Prentice & Chan, Ohlhausen. The sell-out group were briefed on the development by Theodore Liebman, chief architect for the New York State Urban Development Corporation during the construction period, two of the architects responsible for key buildings, and a resident who spoke knowledgeably about preservation issues at the cooperative where she has lived for decades.

Photo: David Bucek

In Houston, Houston Mod organized a tour of three very special houses by Houston’s modern masters.  Featured was the house that MacKie & Kamrath designed in 1953 for the family of architect Karl Kamrath FAIA.  Set on a site next to Buffalo Bayou, the Usonian-inspired house stretches out along a ridge overlooking a deep ravine, a rarity in flat Houston.  Just as stunning, and totally different, was the house that Anderson Todd, FAIA, professor emeritus of architecture at Rice University, designed for his family in a 1920s subdivision near Rice University.  The house is an extraordinary, one-story, flat-roofed, steel-framed pavilion of brick and glass, which Philip Johnson called, "more Mies than Mies." The third masterwork was the house that John Zemanek, FAIA, professor of architecture at the University of Houston, designed for himself in 2001.  It is a moody house, built of exposed timbers and concrete block, and combines the shadowed spaces of rural Texas barns that Zemanek remembers from his youth with intimations of the courtyard houses of northern China. A festive reception followed the tour at John Zemanek’s newest house for himself, which he just moved into.

Savannah Theater. Photo: Tom Little

Docomomo US/Georgia held a wildly successful two-day Tour Day event in partnership with the Historic Savannah Foundation. The Friday event took place at the Benedictine Military School and Priory and included a reception, panel discussion, and tour of the 1962 Juan Bertotto designed facility and its remarkable Priory Chapel. Saturday’s event began with a breakfast hosted by the HSF before a walking tour of downtown Savannah, followed by a tour of historic post war neighborhoods during the afternoon.  A reception at the 1962 Carl Helfrich-designed Lane/Kaminsky House closed out the weekend's events. Special thanks to all those who made the event possible including the Historic Savannah Foundation, Lord Aeck & Sargent, Don Callahan Real Estate Group, the Savannah College of Art and Design, the Historic Preservation Division of the Georgia Department of Natural Resources and Robert A. Ciucevich of Quatrefoil Consulting.

Last but not least, Docomomo US/WeWa welcomed100 participants to homes on 10th Ave Northwest in Seattle, overlooking Boeing Creek and Hidden Lake, on a beautiful afternoon (a rarity in Seattle!)  Highlights included the 1961 Sinclair House owners Laura Brodax and Erik Volkstorf, who shared stories of their renovation, and Nick and Nancy Rust, the original homeowners who shared amazing stories of working with the architect Al Bumgardner on the design of their 1959 home.

Thank you to all who participated!  

CHAPTER UPDATE: WIN FOR LOUIS KAHN KIMBELL ART MUSEUM

Fort Worth's Kimbell Art Museum (1967-1972), generally hailed as Louis Kahn's masterpiece, was recently the focus of a cooperative preservation initiative by a number of organizations, including Docomomo US/NTX. As is widely known, the Kimbell is undergoing a badly needed expansion designed by Renzo Piano. After several false starts in the 1980s and 1990s by other architects, the proposed addition has been well-received in most circles. By placing most of the expansion and its connection to the existing building below grade, Piano's design provides sorely needed space for the museum while leaving Kahn's design - and the visitor's experience of it - largely intact.

However, the construction process for the expansion will require reconstruction of several existing exterior stairs, including those at the iconic formal west entrance. The intent of Renzo Piano and of Kendall Heaton Associates, the architect-of-record, has been to rebuild these stairs exactly as originally designed. However, concerns were raised by the buildings department of the City of Fort Worth about compliance of the original stairs with current codes. None of the stairs have handrails and their riser heights are below a current code minimum of 4 inches.

Kimbell Art Museum

Local architects and preservationists, as well as the museum itself, became very concerned over the potential impact that changed proportions and added handrails would have had on Kahn's subtle entrance sequences. A number of organizations - including Docomomo US, the American Institute of Architects, the Texas Society of Architects, and the National Trust for Historic Preservation - worked together to express concern about these possible modifications and to highlight the impeccable safety record of the existing museum.

Photo: Mark Gunderson

As Docomomo US President Theodore Prudon, FAIA wrote:
"The walk from the south parking lot through the Noguchi garden, past the reflecting pool, and up to the west entrance is a sequence of delightful subtlety that is rarely, if ever, encountered anywhere else...It is this latter experience that is threatened by the proposal to add handrails and to adjust the height of stair risers. We fully recognize that current code requirements are not to be taken lightly and that your charge is protection of the public safety, but we also ask you to note that the Kimbell has now been served by the existing stairs for almost 40 years without incident. We urge you to recognize this exemplary record - and the Kimbell's status as an international symbol of great architecture - as you consider this issue."

Happily, the City of Fort Worth, swayed by the coordinated display of public concern and highlighting of pertinent facts, opted to allow the existing stairs to be rebuilt as originally designed and as they have successfully functioned for almost four decades. Kahn's masterful entrance sequence will remain intact for future generations of museum-goers to experience.

Contributed by Robert L Meckfessel, FAIA

LUIGI NERVI GEORGE WASHINGTON BRIDGE BUS STATION

This past summer the Port Authority of New York & New Jersey unveiled plans for a $183.2 million renovation project of the monumental George Washington Bridge Bus Station. Completed in 1963, this iconic structure was the one of the first American projects by the architect and engineer Dr. Pier Luigi Nervi (1891 – 1979). Invited by the Port Authority to design the building, Dr. Nervi

Bus station, 1963. Photo courtesy Port Authority of NY & NJ

was recognized at the time for such celebrated structures as Palazzetto dello Sport, Rome, Italy (1957) for the 1960 Olympics, and the Exhibition building in Turin (1949). Often hailed as an architectural and engineering gem, the transit hub is easily identified for Nervi’s sculptural, wing-like roof made of poured in place concrete. Whether approaching by bus or automobile via its namesake bridge or on foot from the neighborhood at its base, the monumental multi-peaked roofline of the Bus Station is a compelling vision of a great engineering mind.

Located in the Upper Manhattan neighborhood of Washington Heights, the Station straddles the Trans-Manhattan Expressway (I-95), while its main entrance sits along the busy thoroughfare of Broadway, allowing for easy retail access. Once inside, the local neighborhood resident or traveler may enjoy the second floor retail space alongside the more practical transit kiosks. Not limited to the bus, a commuter may also access the subterranean A-train of New York’s Subway system. Yet it is at the uppermost floor that one understands and embraces Dr. Nervi’s vision. Here, sheltering rows of buses are the triangular vaults of exposed concrete, deliberately ventilated to allow fresh air and light for the occupants' comfort.

Truss detail. Photo: Michelle Taylor

However, despite its dynamic form and celebrated creator, the George Washington Bridge Bus Station has long seemed like the neglected transit hub to its busier counterpart, the Port Authority Bus Station. Of course, the Port Authority’s willful lack of maintenance has not helped to improve one’s impression of the building. Once a local hub, the George Washington Bridge Bus Station boasted about a dozen retailers including a barber and a credit union. However, following an announcement of a similar, but failed, renovation plan in 2008, several retail businesses closed their doors; the most visible evidence of the stilted plans can today be seen along the shuttered block long frontage along Broadway.

This summer’s press release has reinvigorated the shelved renovation proposal of 2008, yet this time the Port Authority has joined forces with private developers, while working with the previously commissioned New York based architects, STV. Scheduled for completion in 2013, the project proposes expanded new retail space from the existing 30,000 square feet to 120,000 square feet. Additionally, the proposal

Rendering via STV Inc.

includes a refurbished waiting area and twenty-one new gates to replace the existing seventeen. Released renderings also display a “modernized” facelift of the nearly fifty year old building that include what appear to be a replacement of the original blue panels with large windows along the Broadway façade. Unfortunately, no clear floor plans or a detailed scope of work has yet been released from the Port Authority vault, and so it is unclear as of yet how much of an impact the proposed project will have on this transit icon. Although a good scrubbing and a fresh coat of paint may in fact reinvigorate this modern icon, let’s hope the final product of the Port Authority’s undertaking does not detract from the dynamic structural form and intention of Nervi’s work.

 

Contributed by Columbia University Historic Preservation student Michelle Taylor. The Nervi terminal is the subject of Michelle's graduate thesis. 
 

HOLIDAY BOOK ANNOUNCEMENT

Gift BooksAs the holidays quickly approach, Docomomo US has assembled a list of all the books reviewed this year, plus a few bonus items that we recommend for the architecture and design enthusiasts on your gift list (or for your own personal enjoyment!) Best yet, every purchase originating from the Docomomo US website is a small gift to us, via our partnership with Amazon Associates.

Visit our Holiday Book List at www.docomomo-us.org/2011_holiday_book_list

UPCOMING EVENTS

Staged Reading of GLASS HOUSE: A PLAY
Written by Bob Morris and directed by Hal Brooks.

Friday December 2, 7pm
Center for Architecture, LaGuardia Pl. New York, NY

$10 Docomomo members, $15 all others

"Anthony is an architect who idolizes mid-century modern design. When he and his wife, Abby, move into a glass house in the suburbs, Anthony's obsession with order surfaces as his persona begins to shatter..."

Bob Morris is the award winning author of Assisted Loving: True Tales of Double Dating With My Dad and other books. As a playwright and performer he has worked with MCC Theater, Daryl Roth's D Lounge, New York Theater Workshop, The Jewish Repertory Theater, Theater for the New City, Dixon Place and NPR's "All Things Considered." He is a frequent contributor to The New York Times.

Organized by the Center for Architecture and Docomomo US.

**To purchase a tickets at the special Docomomo US member rate, click here and enter your email address, then click OK. At the next page, if you are not a member of AIA New York Chapter, click the Continue button to proceed with registration. There, select "Docomomo Member" and tickets will be available at the $10 member price.**  

CALL FOR ABSTRACTS: 
12TH INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE ON THE DETERIORATION AND CONSERVATION OF STONE
Columbia University
October 22-26, 2012
New York, NY

The Scientific Committee will be pleased to receive abstracts relevant to any and all issues of stone conservation. For additional themes and more information download the flyer here (PDF)

Delivery address: gw2130@columbia.edu (George Wheeler)
Please indicate Abstract for 12th Stone Conference in the subject line of the e-mail.
Due date for abstracts: JANUARY 15, 2012  


PALM SPRINGS MODERNISM WEEK
February 16 - 26, 2012
Palm Springs, CA

Modernism Week is an exciting 11-day celebration of mid-century design, architecture and culture in Palm Springs, CA, home to some of the best examples of 20th century architecture in the United States. The festival includes architectural tours, films, lectures, parties and more. Organized by Palm Springs Preservation Foundation, the Palm Springs Modern Committee, the Palm Springs Historical Society, and the Architecture and Design Council of the Palm Springs Art Museum.

Visit www.modernismweek.com for more information and to reserve tickets.

EAHN 2012
May 31 - June 3, 2012
Brussels, Belgium

The European Architectural History Network (EAHN) Conference will be taking place in Brussels, Belgium from May 31-June 3 2012. For more information please visit www.eahn2012.org

Docomomo International Conference
August 2012 Espoo, Finland

Docomomo Suomi/Finland will host the 12th Docomomo International Conference in Espoo, Finland in 2012. The conference will be held in cooperation and with the support of the City of Espoo and Espoo City Museum.

 

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